Saturday, September 26, 2009


Have bug-eyed creatures from another planet taken over XPLORE?

No, that’s Stephen (right) and Audrey (below) removing the glue from the deck to replace the TBS deck tread.

TBS is an incredibly durable and effective non-skid application which Stephen has used since 1999, and which XPLORE, from her earlier incarnation as a Global Challenge racing yacht, had on deck. Part of our refit plans include replacing the TBS … but first, the old stuff had to come off.

Warm sunny days soften the glue enough to make it easy for one or two of us (and on occasion all three: stacked up like a conga line) to peel off. The old pieces are kept to use as templates for the new application. Then the glue must be removed from deck: a crucial process which involves scraping up the goopy cement with copious amounts of solvent, hence the face masks.

Once the deck is clean, the new pieces – which have been carefully cut using the templates and a double-check of sizes and placement – are easily placed down, and the edges are sealed. Voila. At this time we have replaced nearly a third of the TBS on board XPLORE and sunny days ahead promise the rest won’t be far behind.

“When we re-designed and modified XPLORE for the South, we worked with TBS hands on. It’s easy to use, measure, cut and apply; with the self adhesive backing all you need is a clean, smooth area and it sticks and stays!”

Stephen first product-tested TBS 10 years ago, saying “At first I thought there was not enough to grip onto, as the surface seemed smooth; but quickly I realised that no matter how much water came on deck there was always a firm grip and a feeling of steadiness, whether you were pushing hard in racing conditions, or when there was snow and ice everywhere.” Since then he has become a big proponent of the product, for secure footing in the world’s toughest, most demanding and dangerous conditions; Antarctica, the Southern Ocean, and Cape Horn.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Sept 21 2009

Today is a gorgeous sunny day and the forecast is for more of the same … so finally, we paint!

XPLORE has been in Piriapolis, Uruguay for her biennial refit. Stephen and Audrey have already added extra navigation area windows, and a newly designed cuddy atop the companionway, both of which increase comfort and safety as well as a bit more brightness below deck. Above deck we’ve been working on replacing the TBS non-skid deck tread, for safer footing underway, plus other odds and ends like replacing part of the mainsail track.

But our plans to repaint the hull have been stymied by the weather, including the last-big-blow-of-the-winter last week, which put us all into ‘chill’ mode. However this morning dawned sunny and clear: Fiky and his workers are already busy prepping the hull, and replacing all the protective plastic that shredded in the storm. We hope to be seeing green (as in the hull, not envy!) soon – fingers crossed. -BC

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Onboard but never bored

XPLORE’s deck is a clutter of tools, parts and projects; the colorful power cords strewn about: up the rig, over the side, and all about. Stephen is dangling from the bos’ns chair up the mast, replacing parts of the mainsail track that got dinged in a big blow on the way to South Georgia. Audrey stands by: passing tools up and down.

Alongside, Fiky and his men continue to prep the hull for painting: sanding, filling and priming, in the hopes that a weather window is ahead. But it’s much too windy these days and the threat of rain is imminent. In the meantime, we keep busy with projects that conditions allow – sealing the new cuddy and oiling the teak trim and rails in between Stephen’s occasional call from halfway up the mast: needing a hoist up or down.

It’s been non-stop and I’m impressed with all that’s been done since I arrived a week ago; and not only that, but the boat on the whole. Even in her ‘undressed’ state she’s by far the most beautiful and powerful yacht in Puerto Piriapolis, and I take more than a small amount of pride in being onboard as part of her crew. After several years of being ‘shore support’ for XPLORE EXPEDITIONS I have come south to sail for the season, and will be adding my voice to Stephen and Audrey’s dispatches here. ~ Betsy